As the 2014 midterms wind to a close, Sarah Palin is once again hinting that she might run for office again, but like past flirtations with entering the political arena again it seems obvious that this is just a feint on her part:
Sarah Palin opened the door for another run for public office, railing against liberals who, she says, would like to keep her on the political sidelines.
In an interview Tuesday with Fox Business Network, the former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee was asked whether harsh criticism of her had driven her away from politics.
“Bless their hearts, those haters out there, they don’t understand that it invigorates me,” she responded. “It wants me to get out there and defend the innocent.”
“[T]he more they’re pouring on, the more I’m going to bug the crap out of them by being out there with a voice, with a message, hopefully running for office in the future, too,” Palin added.
She hasn’t run for office since stepping down as Alaska governor in 2009; in particular, declining to run for the 2012 presidential nomination. Last year, Palin said on Fox News that she “considered” a run for the Republican nomination to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Begich in November. Begich is in the midst of a close race with Republican Dan Sullivan.
We’ve seen this game before, of course. As noted, Palin teased her supporters and the political media with the idea of running for president in 2012 for months and months to the point where the speculation was becoming annoying, to say the least. Even Roger Ailes was reportedly getting upset with the former governor and sending strong signals that she either needed decide she was running and end her relationship with Fox News, or she needed to stop exploiting her time on the network with a cat and mouse game. In the end, when Palin did announce that she wasn’t running – and did so on Mark Levin’s radio show rather than on one of his networks shows – the bad blood was so deep after that that, for a time, the former half-term governor wasn’t on the network, although she was ultimately brought back because, well, it’s Fox and she’s Sarah Palin. Since then, Palin was presented with the opportunity of running against Mark Begich this year and she turned it down. She also could have tried to challenge Republican Gov. Sean Parnell, who first got that job by succeeding her when she quit in 2009, and indeed would not have been term-limited had she somehow won such an election. The fact that she recently endorsed the fusion ticket of an Independent and a Democrat who are running against Parnell and his Lt. Governor running mate makes clear that there’s no love lost between Palin and Parnell, in any case.
She did none of this, of course, because its clear that Palin isn’t interested in running for office. She’s interested, as she has been from the start of this media circus, solely in Sarah Palin and having attention focused on her. That’s exactly what cracking the door open to running for office again will do, of course. There won’t be much for her to do once the midterms are over, after all, and, to be honest, outside of the campaigning she did during some of the GOP primaries Palin has not been a major player this year at all. Moreover, as has been the case in previous election cycles, SarahPAC, the professional celebrity’s Political Action Committee has been incredibly parsimonious in donations to Republican candidates around the nation. In just the third quarter, out of the $1.4 million that the PAC had from donations and cash on hand, just $45,000 dollars had been donated to candidates or spent on the behalf of candidates. For all of 2014 through the end of September, the PAC had raised $2.5 million, had another $1.1 million cash on hand, and it spent some $2.7 million, of which only $150,000 went to candidates. The rest of the money appears to have gone to consultants and speechwriters who seem to be devoted to working only for Palin herself. In other words, unlike say Rand Paul, whose PAC is dropping something in excess of $100,000 in Kansas on behalf of Pat Roberts in the final week of the campaign alone, SarahPAC seems to be concerned only with Sarah Palin. Not that that’s anything of a surprise, of course.
None of that’s going to matter to the small and shrinking coalition of conservatives who still identify Palin as someone they take seriously politically, and its worth noting in that regard that my observations and conversations with conservatives online and in person make clear that she’s nowhere near being the star she was in 2008. To them and to the media, she’ll continue to be someone to be tracked obsessively, and she’ll milk that up as we head toward 2016. Not only can she let them speculate her entering the presidential field, which seems incredibly unlikely at this point given the fact that the GOP’s 2016 bench has people who are much more qualified and experienced than she is, but she can also let them speculate about her running in her home state again. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who won in 2010 as a write-in candidate after being beaten in the GOP Primary by Palin-backed Joe Miller, will be up for reelection and will likely make a bid for the GOP nomination again. There’s never been much good feeling between the Palin and Murkowski clans, and the prospect of a head-to-head battle between the two is something that political pundits won’t be able to resist speculating about. And Palin, being Palin, will eat it all up. Don’t believe the speculation, though, because if anything has become clear in the past five years it is that Sarah Palin has no actual interest in governing. because it gets in the way of being famous.
Anyway, for anyone who can bear watching it, here’s the full interview on Fox Business Channel.
Doug Mataconis appears on the Outside the Beltway blog at http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/.